08 July 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld
CRUSADERS PUT ON FINALS MASTERCLASS
The Crusaders put on a masterclass in finals rugby against the Jaguares in Christchurch on Saturday to clinch their 10th Super Rugby title, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The Final: Crusaders v Jaguares
Like the steam that permeated from the players on the cold Christchurch night, both the Crusaders and Jaguares rose to the occasion in Saturday’s Super Rugby final. Uncompromising, intense and hard-hitting, the decider was a song of ice and fire, the experienced Crusaders cool, calm and collected, and the fired-up first-time finalists from Buenos Aires bringing the fight to the favourites.
The high error count, a consequence of the dewy conditions, detracted from the decider somewhat, but it was a compelling contest for the most part. Ultimately, the mean machine marched on, as expected, with the classy Crusaders winning comfortably – 19-3 – in the end, while the game Jaguares were left with an overwhelming feeling of what could have been.
Finals rugby is a different beast to round-robin action, its high-stakes, do-or-die nature ramping up the pressure tenfold, and the ‘Saders once again showed they are masters at clearing the final hurdle. Like so many finals in the past, Saturday’s showdown came down to which team made the most of their opportunities. This is where the ‘Saders shone brightest.
Unrivalled – with this their 14th appearance in the final, more than twice as many as the next-best Brumbies’ six, and undefeated in 22 prior play-off games – the Crusaders used all of that experience expertly to foil the visitors.
In one brilliant, beautiful sequence, the ‘Saders delivered a hammer blow, Matt Todd – who had an outstanding outing – turning the ball over at the breakdown, Kieran Read summing up the situation in the blink of an eye, feeding Sam Whitelock on the blindside, the skipper linking up with Codie Taylor on his inside and the hooker finishing off in contact in the 26th minute.
“Is Razor going to dance tonight?”
“No doubt he will, he loves a bit of limelight so I’m sure he’ll be doing it somewhere!”
The Crusaders beat the Jaguares 19-3 in the Super Rugby final to win their 10th title.
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) July 6, 2019